BRADENTON -- Commonly known Jewish Christmas traditions include going out for Chinese food or a movie, but some members of a local temple have made another Christmas tradition for themselves.
Elaine Mittler, a member of Bradenton's Jewish Congregation Ner Tamid, started the tradition of giving out food to the needy with her daughter on Christmas 16 years ago. When the Congregation Ner Tamid started 11 years ago, she brought the tradition to the temple.
"It's the right thing to do, and the need is greater and greater every year," Mittler said.
Ten volunteers, seven of them from the Jewish congregation, handed out food 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Christmas Day at Bradenton's Our Daily Bread, 710 18th Ave. W., ensuring not only that the needy would have plenty to eat, but also that Christian volunteers could stay home with their families for Christmas.
Mittler said they served about 150 people in the two-and-a-half-hour period this year, and they now do it for Christmas and Easter. She said her favorite people to help are the families with small children.
"The kids are always so well behaved, and they're all so appreciative," Mittler said. "That's when you realize it's worth getting up for
this in the morning."
Though Mittler has been volunteering at soup kitchens in Bradenton for 16 years and even before that when she lived in New Jersey, she still participates in typical Jewish Christmas traditions as well.
"We do this so Christians can be with their families on their holidays," Mittler said. "Then afterward, we can go home and have Chinese food with our own families."